“From the Snares of the Devil” – a short story by E.J. Babb

The cramped, dimly lit bedroom was airless. The smell of rotten eggs was unbearable, but at least the lavender-scented candles dotted about the room had muted the acrid stench of vomit and bile.

There was an old woman on the bed with deep hollows in her cheeks and bruised-looking skin under her eyes. Her name was Wendy. Wendy’s typically fluffy, permed hair was slick to her head with sweat, and she had ripped her favourite pearl earrings from her ears, causing her bloodied, torn lobes to dangle down the sides of her neck as if they themselves were jewellery.

Wendy wasn’t moving, but she was breathing. Just.

The priest was at the foot of the bed, a bible in his hand. To his left were Wendy’s grandchildren, Lance and Bella. To his right was his assistant, Neil, and then there was Hettie, the woman who helped out occasionally at the church fete. The priest had no idea why Hettie was there, but she had been surprisingly helpful throughout the whole ordeal.

Wendy’s eyes flickered open, revealing pitch black sclera, and the priest began again.

“From the snares of the devil,” the priest said, his voice weak and weary.

Deliver us, O Lord,” the others replied, equally as fatigued.

“That Thy Church may serve Thee in peace and liberty.”

We beseech Thee to hear us.”

“That Thou may crush down all enemies of Thy Church.”

We beseech Thee to hear us.”

That was it. That was the last of it. But why wasn’t anything happening?

“Oh,” the priest said, remembering to flick holy water onto Wendy’s nightgown.

The old woman screeched and her spine arched into a backwards ‘C’. She screeched again and her whole body lifted from the mattress and floated in midair. There was a growl, a grunt and a sigh, and finally Wendy slumped back down onto the bed.

Within seconds Wendy regained consciousness, and her eyes were back to their normal colour. She looked at each person in turn, a bewildered look on her face.

“Are you all right?” Bella asked.

“Yes, dear,” Wendy said.

Everyone sighed in relief. There were smiles, hugs and even some tears, and then Hettie, Niel and the priest started to move towards the door.

“Where are you going?” Wendy asked.

“We want to give you some peace,” the priest replied.

“No, Father, stay! I’m sure there’s a Vienetta in the freezer somewhere.”

“That would be lovely, Wendy,” Hettie interjected, “but I’ve been here for three days. It’s time I went home.”

Lance yawned. “I think I’m going to head as well, it’s a long drive back to the hotel. Want a lift, Bella?”

“Oh yes, I’d….”

Wendy threw the duvet off herself.

“You all better stay, I can feel that thing coming back, that Ornamental fellow.”

“Ormenu?” the priest offered.

“That’s the one. He’s still inside me. You better all stay here just in case. Lance, go get my good plates from the cabinet.”

Bella walked around the bed and placed a loving hand on her grandmother’s knee.

“Grandmother, you didn’t invite a demon inside of you so we’d visit, did you?”

Wendy lowered her gaze and her chin began to wobble.

“I’m so lonely.”

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